I am just getting up to speed on this, since I am on the road.
Someone submitted a question to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” about whether or not we fulfilled our obligation on days of precept (i.e., Sundays, Holy Days of Obligation), by attending Holy Mass at a chapel of the Society of St. Pius X. The position of the Holy See hitherto has always been ‘Yes’.
Some asked, and here is the transcript of the letter found at Queen of Martyrs Press:
And let this be a lesson to people who ask question!
February 19, 2012
William Joseph Card. Levada
President of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”
Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio
00120 Vatican City
Most Reverend Eminence,
My name is ___________ and I reside in ______,______, U.S.A. I am writing to Your Eminence in regards to a “Friends of the Society of St. Pius X” chapel [QUAERITUR: Is that chapel different from ordinary chapels of the SSPX? What is a "Friends of the SSPX" chapel?] here in ________ called __________ Roman Catholic Church whose chaplain is Rev.____________.
In Pope Benedict XVI’s letter on March 10, 2009 concerning the lifting of the excommunications of the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, the Holy Father conveyed that the priests of the Society do not exercise their ministry legitimately within the Church. I do not wish to question the legitimacy of the ministry of the clergy of Society of St. Pius X and that of their affiliates, as this has already been addressed by His Holiness.
My questions strictly pertain to Canon 1248 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law, which states:
The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.
Based on this information, I have two very specific questions which I would like to ask Your Eminence to answer:
1) Strictly considering the aforementioned canon, would a Catholic fulfill his Mass obligation by assisting at Holy Mass by attending this “Friends of the Society of St. Pius X” chapel called __________ Roman Catholic Church in _______,_______?
2) Upon the condition that the answer to the first question is in the negative, does a Catholic sin by assisting at Holy Mass at the aforementioned “Friends of the Society of St. Pius X” chapel?
Please understand that I am neither asking nor expecting Your Eminence to recommend that the faithful attend liturgical services at this or any other chapel affiliated with the Society of St. Pius X.
I wish to thank Your Eminence for taking the time to address this matter for me and answering these two questions. I trust that after receiving Your Eminence’s response that I will have clear and direct answers to each of these two questions that will avoid any further confusion. I can assure Your Eminence of my prayers.
Embracing the sacred purple of His Most Reverend Eminence, I am His Eminence’s very humble and obedient servant.
Okay… that lays it out clearly.
Here is the scan of the letter of response from the Secretary of the PCED, Msgr. Pozzo. Remember, all correspondence to a dicastery of the Holy See is to be addressed to the head of the dicastery. The appropriate person responds:
Again, I don’t know if a “Friends of the SSPX” chapel is different from a normal SSPX chapel. Perhaps therein lies the difference. Otherwise, if this is to be applied to the SSPX as a whole, all chapels associated with the SSPX, then what this letter conveys seems to be a reversal of the previous position of the Holy See.
One can only surmise that such a change has been advanced in order to clarify the status of those of the SSPX who would NOT choose closer and clear unity with Peter in the person of the Roman Pontiff. If there is a reconciliation under the leadership of SSPX Bp. Fellay, and if a group refuses to go along, then – before the fact, and that is important – that splinter group would know where they stand spiritually.
Here is something to consider.
People can now say “But Father! But Father! How can the Holy See say one thing before and another thing now?”
The Church gets to determine how we fulfill our obligations. The Church gets to interpret law. It is a long-standing principle of interpretation of law to be as generous and flexible with them when they impose obligations (as the law does in regard to days of precept). In that case, this letter puzzles me a little, though the official interpretation of law is far above my pay grade.
I suspect that we will get some clarifications in the near future.
DO NOT FREAK OUT.
Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity,
UPDATE 1 June 0429 GMT:
Clarification (2100 GMT): Following our request for a clarification, we have been informed by the US District of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) that the chapel mentioned in the letter below is not a chapel of the Society and that, while its specific name was expressly mentioned by the sender in the deleted data, it is NOT included in the public list of chapels, including those other chapels identified by the Society publicly as ‘Friends of the Society of St. Pius X’. It is very possible that this information, easily researched online on the website of the U. S. District, might have led someone in the Commission to believe that this specific chapel, which is not listed by them and not one of the “Friends of the Society of Saint Pius X” or “other traditional (non-SSPX) venues”, is a venue with no affiliation whatsoever with the SSPX and led to this different appraisal by the Commission.
In any event, I stand by what I wrote, above. This should be food for thought for those who would not accept greater and clearer unity with the Roman Pontiff.